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The Water Castle Hardcover – January 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802728391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802728395
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7- In this novel, three loners become friends while searching for a miracle. After his dad has a stroke, Ephraim Appledore-Smith's physician mom moves the family to the Water Castle, their ancestral home in Crystal Springs, Maine. Ephraim, the prototypical ordinary middle kid, isn't thrilled about the relocation but looks forward to being the Big City fish in a small-town pond. Things don't go as expected, however, and he discovers that Crystal Springs is full of high achievers and deep, dark secrets. He learns about his family's long-running obsession with exploration, science, and finding the Fountain of Youth. Classmates Mallory, descendant of the Darling family, traditional caretakers of the Water Castle, and Will, whose family has been feuding with the Appledores for generations, join with Ephraim to find out the truth about Crystal Springs, and maybe a cure for Ephraim's dad. Part of the story is told through flashback passages from Nora Darling's perspective; she was hired by Orlando Appledore in 1908 to be his assistant, despite the fact that she was young, female, and black. Ephraim is a realistic kid: needy, uncertain, not particularly brave or logical. Mallory, Will, and Nora are also well drawn, as are some of the adult characters, though others are fairly flat. Not all of the mysteries are cleared up, though most can be guessed at, and the story ends on an optimistic note. Comparisons to Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting (Farrar, 1975) are inevitable, and there will be much for readers to discuss. An entertaining and thought-provoking fantasy.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

After his father’s stroke, Ephraim and his family move to the Water Castle, the Appledore family’s ancestral home, which his mother has inherited. As he and his siblings explore the strange mansion and learn about its history as a source of curative water, he begins to hope that its past holds secrets that may heal his father. Meanwhile, Ephraim gradually befriends classmates Mallory, whose family has worked at the Water Castle for generations, and Will, whose father carries on their family’s age-old grudge against the Appledores. Interspersed with the present-day story are flashbacks to events taking place in the same location in 1908 and 1909, when Dr. Appledore bottled his famous Fountain of Youth Crystal Water. Although the historical-narrative background has its own strengths and its own uses, it interrupts a more believable, involving present-day story. With their individual points of view, different family problems, and often prickly personalities, Ephraim, Mallory, and Will are at the heart of this somewhat convoluted but ultimately rewarding novel. Grades 5-7. --Carolyn Phelan

Customer Reviews

It only took me one day to read this book.
Amazon Customer
Somewhat mysterious, suspenseful, and an interesting storyline.
bookbuddy
Henson himself plays nicely into a little subplot in the book.
E. R. Bird

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Where does fantasy stop and science fiction begin? Is it possible to ever draw a distinct line in the sand between the two? A book with a name like "The Water Castle" (mistakenly read by my library's security guard as "White Castle") could fall on either side of the equation, though castles generally are the stuff of fantastical fare. In this particular case, however, what we have here is a smart little bit of middle grade chapter book science fiction, complete with arson, obsession, genetic mutation, and a house any kid would kill to live in. Smarter than your average bear, this is one book that rewards its curious readers. It's a pleasure through and through.

Welcome to Crystal Springs, Maine where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. That last part seems to be true, anyway. When Ephraim Appledore, his two siblings, his mom, and his father (suffering from the after effects of a stroke) move to town he's shocked to find that not only does everyone seem to know more about his family history than he does, they're all geniuses to boot. The Appledores have taken over the old Water Castle built by their ancestors and harboring untold secrets. When he's not exploring it with his siblings Ephraim finds two unlikely friends in fellow outcast Mallory Green and would-be family feuder Will Wylie. Together they discover that the regional obsession with the fountain of youth may have some basis in reality. A reality that the three of them are having trouble facing, for individual reasons.

When one encounters an old dusty castle hiding trapdoors and secret passageways around every corner, that usually means your feet are planted firm in fantasy soil.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edjane Stewart on March 29, 2014
Format: Audible Audio Edition
I received 'The Water Castle' by Megan Frazer Blakemore in exchange for a honest review.

After I completed listening to the audio book version I got, I felt this is a book teachers and parents would like their kids reading (or listening). Part mystery, part historical with bits of science facts, it aims to draw kids into a story, that while hinting about magic (water that will keep you young forever), it's more grounded on more realistic world where kids have to face bewildering and confusing problems and try to make sense of why things (good and bad) happen to them and the one's they love.

However, because the story switches back-and-forth between past and present and the age of the protagonists, the story is suited for a narrower age-band (10 to 13 years old). Younger kids might have a harder time following the two parallel stories unfolding almost simultaneously, while older teens might not think it's interesting enough as it doesn't have much action.

The ending might feel somewhat inconclusive to some, but I thought it was an appropriate end and a good way to introduce kids to stories that do not always end as a nicely wrapped package with a bow on top.

The narrator "Chris Henry Coffrey" was pleasant to listen to. He maintains an even cadence and reads in a clear voice (some narrators mumble making it harder to hear parts of the book or certain characters).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's just an amazing story and it kept me engaged in reading because it was a fun story, and I WANTED to follow what was going to happen next. It only took me one day to read this book. - MG Stern
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nice mystery and likeable characters. I enjoyed the two story lines and speculating on how they might connect. Actually, the historical portion was probably the most engaging. Great cover art too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John on February 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very well written tale blending mystery, science, magic and multi-generational family relationships in a small Maine town. A great read for anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anna on November 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
great book. it was very interesting.l love adventure tales. the ending is very sweet. I could read it over and over
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Format: Paperback
Ephriam Appledore-Smith is one of three siblings, happily living in Boston with his physician mom and artist dad. He doesn't spend much time thinking about how he fits in or whether he's above or below average. He's just a kid. That is until his dad suffers a stroke and isn't found for hours. Dad's illness changes everything. Mom might be a doctor, but she's powerless to fix what's wrong with her husband, who sits like he's made of flesh colored putty, unresponsive to anything his wife or children say.
When mom announces that she's taking the whole family to Crystal Springs, Maine where her mentor in medical school lives and may be able to help Dad recover, She further tells them that the family will live in the mysterious Water Castle, a house that has always been mentioned, but never visited. Ephraim's not particularly happy in part because he's under the assumption that he and his older brother and younger sister will be stuck in an inferior school.
He's floored when they arrive. The house is huge and seems to have an abundance of secret passages and rooms. The school is so advanced and state of the art that he's in shock and can't seem to do or say anything right. Mallory, the daughter of the family that has been taking care of the Water Castle (something generations of her family have been doing since it was first built), seems hostile to Ephraim at first, as does Will Wylie whose family has a long standing resentment because of the supposedly magical water that Ephraim's ancestors bottled and sold.
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More About the Author

Megan Frazer Blakemore grew up in New Hampshire, and from there moved on to California, New York, Northern Ireland, the Ivory Coast, and Boston before settling in Maine with her husband and children. She attended Columbia University where she studied literature and writing. After a brief stint in the television industry, she decided to become a librarian.

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